Did the shop cut my steerer too short?

Messages
377
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
So I recently got a replacement frameset due to warranty when my old frame cracked after about 2 years and 20,000 miles of use. I grew up poor and started racing bikes when I was broke; as a consequence I had to do all my work myself and scrounge for parts. This is how I live to this day, I do everything on my bikes myself but two specific things, pulling crown races and cutting steerers. They’re infrequent needs that require tools that will likely get lost by the time I need them again. I took this frame in to get the steerer cut. I explained that I wanted it cut slammed (same geo as the old frame which I rode slammed). I get a call a few hours later from the mechanic saying he cut the steerer a little shorter than he wanted but it lines up with top bolt on my stem so it’s good to go. I pulled the top cap when I got home and am not sure about his assessment the plug lines up with the bolt but barely. I put in an order for a super low top bearing protector for 28 bucks that’ll get me an additional 6mm of steerer back. Attached are photos of the steerer with the top cap removed. Am I right to go back and request them pay for that low stack headset cover? I feel like this is borderline but don’t like the idea of riding as hard and as much as I do with that thing not fully supported. Guess I’m ordering a cutting guide for my next bikes. At least the bike looks pretty cool set up, hopefully won’t be visiting the dentist any time soon 🤣
 

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Messages
1,866
Location
California
The upper bolt on the stem is above the top of the steerer tube so I'd say they cut the steerer tube too short. If you can get 6mm back by installing a thin top bearing protector I'd expect it to be okay.
 

Crash Bandicoot

Thread starter
Messages
377
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
The upper bolt on the stem is above the top of the steerer tube so I'd say they cut the steerer tube too short. If you can get 6mm back by installing a thin top bearing protector I'd expect it to be okay.
Thanks, you think if I switched to a stem with a singular more centered pinch bolt (3T ARX 2) that would help? I’m giving them a buzz tomorrow, absolutely ridiculous that a shop can’t do something like cut a steerer right.
 
Messages
1,866
Location
California
I terms of force distribution, considering the short steerer, a single bolt stem should be better, but do you really want to trust a single bolt stem? The shop messed up. They didn't measure twice before cutting, I suspect.
 
Messages
2,405
Location
NY, NY
Even if you want the stem slammed, I would want the steerer tube to protrude slightly through. Even just enough for a 2.5mm spacer. I would take that up with the shop owner. I wouldn't ride that.
Syntace makes a stem that has a narrower clamping surface. It may work on that tube.
 

Crash Bandicoot

Thread starter
Messages
377
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Even if you want the stem slammed, I would want the steerer tube to protrude slightly through. Even just enough for a 2.5mm spacer. I would take that up with the shop owner. I wouldn't ride that.
Syntace makes a stem that has a narrower clamping surface. It may work on that tube.
This is how I have done it in the past, I don’t even know why you’d start cutting a steerer below the top of the stem at least off the bat. I’m going to contact the shop and request them replace the fork. What a mess.
 
I’m going to contact the shop and request them replace the fork. What a mess.

This is the correct way to fix this mistake. Anything else is just a bandaid. How would that put the correct tension on the bearings? I had to search what slamming a stem was, turns out there are now slammed 0 stack headsets.

Respect for anyone riding 10,000 miles a year. (y) I did 5k BITD and it was enough.

BTW the Park Tool SG-6 is $42.
 
Last edited:
Messages
286
Location
Carolinas
I would change the fork out altogether. There 2 bolts on that stem. The steer tube needs to go to the level of the stem otherwise any torsional force on the front wheel will cause the fork to slip inside that stem.
If the mechanic made a mistake he needs to fix that mistake. I wouldn't take it back even if he guarantees it. One bad hit and it might be over for you.
 

Crash Bandicoot

Thread starter
Messages
377
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Just an update, spoke with the manufacturer and they agreed that the way this was cut is unsafe to ride.

They suggested before replacing the fork I try a low profile bearing cover and go with a lower profile stem since the Ritchey one I have is a bit high profile. Happened to have an old Cannondale headset bearing cover in the garage that works and is 5mm high vs 8.7mm. Now the steerer and plug seem to be above the bolt as they should be and there is only a 4mm gap between the lip of the stem and the top of the steerer which looks a lot more stable. The top cap is removable with the pinch bolts at 5nm which was difficult to do on the previous set up. At this point I feel like the system is safe to ride while I wait for the replacement parts to come in which should get my steerer to 1-2mm below the stem.

I’m giving the shop a call to request that they refund me and compensate me for the parts (around $90) I’ve paid for as well as let them know they’re on the hook if I need a new fork. I should have known something was up when I got the sheepish call from the mechanic and he wasn’t there as I picked up my bike. Done with bike shops I general now, ordered the cutting guide and will do everything from my home workshop from here on out.
 

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How does that top cap work? All of the threadless headsets that I've known since the beginning of time have the cap pushing down on the top of the stem to load the bearings. You're very understanding switching out parts to make the mech's mistake work. With the miles you ride you need to be positive it's safe, not just pretty sure.
 

Crash Bandicoot

Thread starter
Messages
377
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
How does that top cap work? All of the threadless headsets that I've known since the beginning of time have the cap pushing down on the top of the stem to load the bearings. You're very understanding switching out parts to make the mech's mistake work. With the miles you ride you need to be positive it's safe, not just pretty sure.
Generally you need to have a little more spacer than steerer so the top cap doesn’t bottom out on the expansion plug. The cap is somewhat ornamental once you tighten the stem bolts since it’s just there for preload . It’s not unusual to have a little less steerer than stem if you want the fully flush look but my understanding is that there really should only be a 1-4mm gap but that is brand dependent and some brands (trek) require the steer to be taller than the stem I believe. Personally most shops I’ve had just cut the steerer flush to the stem and then put a 2.5mm spacer on which is fine with me and something I thought they all did for liability purposes.

I wish I was that kind, I’m being this accommodating because the only replacement fork I’d be able to get my hands on in the next few months has paint blemishes and is in the UK right now.

Doing my math with the new stem and bearing cover The steerer should be even with the top of the stem or even stick up 1mm. To the shops credit, they profusely apologized, deposited $150 in my bank account for the parts that I bought even though I told them I spent $85 on them, and agreed to buy me a replacement fork if the manufacturer says the steerer is still unsafe with the new parts or I don’t feel comfortable with the fit.

The real champ is Bowman, I found Cannondale and Specificalized to be largely useless when I asked about safety questions about bikes, just directing me to the shop. The guys at Bowman have been as awesome as you guys looking at all my photos etc.
 
OP, absolutely positively they cut the steerer tube too short! You need a new fork!

I cut my own forks. It’s not difficult. One thing I always do is leave the steerer tube about 2 or 3 millimeters proud of the top of the stem. Then I put a 4 or 5 millimeter spacer on top of the stem. This allows the stem to clamp the steerer tube completely. Know what I’m saying?

You need a new fork! Inexcusable by the shop.

Scott
 
Messages
2,349
Location
Ontario Canada
So I recently got a replacement frameset due to warranty when my old frame cracked after about 2 years and 20,000 miles of use. I grew up poor and started racing bikes when I was broke; as a consequence I had to do all my work myself and scrounge for parts. This is how I live to this day, I do everything on my bikes myself but two specific things, pulling crown races and cutting steerers. They’re infrequent needs that require tools that will likely get lost by the time I need them again. I took this frame in to get the steerer cut. I explained that I wanted it cut slammed (same geo as the old frame which I rode slammed). I get a call a few hours later from the mechanic saying he cut the steerer a little shorter than he wanted but it lines up with top bolt on my stem so it’s good to go. I pulled the top cap when I got home and am not sure about his assessment the plug lines up with the bolt but barely. I put in an order for a super low top bearing protector for 28 bucks that’ll get me an additional 6mm of steerer back. Attached are photos of the steerer with the top cap removed. Am I right to go back and request them pay for that low stack headset cover? I feel like this is borderline but don’t like the idea of riding as hard and as much as I do with that thing not fully supported. Guess I’m ordering a cutting guide for my next bikes. At least the bike looks pretty cool set up, hopefully won’t be visiting the dentist any time soon 🤣
Too short. Especially for a steering related part.
 

BeerCan

$50 Site Donor
Messages
1,761
Location
FL
I agree with others on being to short. I'm glad the guys took ownership of it.

But wow, that is slammed. Makes my back hurt looking at it :) I have to ride in a much more relaxed position at my age LoL
 
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